Critical bugs in computer chips spark panic — Intel flaw

Meltdown Spectre affect Mac iOS but there are no known exploits

Critical bugs in computer chips spark panic — Intel flaw

Some of it has been accurate, and some has been sensationalist and overblown.

The Spectre and Meltdown security stories were the major focus of the week. Because of the way they process data, the performance of their chips could be reduced by as much as 40%.

Media reports have suggesting a significant performance impact from some of the updates.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich told CNBC that a researcher at Google made Intel aware of the issue "a couple of months ago".

There are two major security flaws in chips.

A newly discovered exploit in most modern computer processors could make your computer or phone vulnerable to attacks. These vulnerabilities impact Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS, tvOS, and Android devices. In addition, the heat on Intel intensified after it was learned that its CEO, Bryan Krzanich, sold off millions of dollars of Intel stock after the disclosure. It's a part of the Software Engineering Institute, which is itself a non-profit that's largely funded by grants from the US Department of Defense.

For more on Meltdown and Spectre, and what they mean, check out our simple guide here.

Up till now, in order to improve speeds, device manufacturers have been allowing various applications to use system memory which is otherwise allotted to a system's kernel.

The flaws, known by the names Spectre and Meltdown, aren't unique to one particular chipmaker or device.

Following up on yesterday's confirmation that security exploits can compromise computers with Intel processors, Intel today announced a timetable for updates to render recent computers "immune" to the exploits, now referred to as Spectre and Meltdown.

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They must be run locally on the machine and must be loaded through some form of application. "If you do this, you should be fine".

Customers of Microsoft, the maker of the Windows operating system, will need to install an update from the company to fix the problem.

It is not an easy thing to do, as some have suggested.

The company's microprocessors are the fundamental building block of the internet, corporate networks and PCs. But that may not stop all possible attacks, warns Paul Kocher, one of the researchers who discovered Spectre.

Intel has detailed its plans to begin the fight against the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits that shocked the world this week.

Overall the company is downplaying the severity of the problem, and has pushed back against reports that any fixes might slowdown a chip's performance.

According to researchers, the two main potential bugs are called 'Spectre' which can affect chips made by Intel, AMD and ARM Holdings. Assuming Intel grows revenue by between 3-5% each year for the next five years, Intel stock may have at least 20% more upside. Furthermore, Intel has already provided the vendors and developers with software and firmware updates. Many of the fixes are already being implemented as software/firmware upgrades and should mitigate the vast majority of any potential exploitation.

We suspect more lawsuits will follow.

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